Louisa Ida Marina Macrae was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple in London, in May 1891. Five other people were initiated during the ritual: Louisa Ida’s sisters-in-law Cecilia Macrae and Florence Kennedy; Augustus Montague Cooper; Agnes Alicia de Pallandt; and Emily Katherine Bates. Louisa Ida chose the Latin motto ‘Fortudine’ and gave the GD’s administrators an address for correspondence - Cecilia Macrae’s address - but that was as far as her membership ever went. She never followed up her initiation and by as early as July 1892 was no longer a member of the Order.
This is one of my short biographies. As with so many of the GD members, especially its women members, I have found virtually no information on Louisa Ida’s life.
My basic sources for any GD member are in a section at the end of the file. Supplementary sources for this particular member are listed at the end of each section.
This is what I have found on LOUISA IDA MARINA MACRAE.
DID SHE HAVE ANY OTHER ESOTERIC INTERESTS?
A WORD ON SPIRITUALISM
I haven’t found any evidence that Louisa Ida was interested in spiritualism. However, it is hard to tell whether people were spiritualists: spiritualism was a very locally, even family-based pursuit and there was no over-arching organisation with a membership list that can be consulted now. Meetings of the British National Association of Spiritualists, and of other major London-based groups did receive coverage in the spiritualist press of the day; but I didn’t see Louisa Ida’s name mentioned in any of the issues of magazines like Light that I looked at.
Louisa Ida was never a member of the Theosophical Society either.
Theosophical Society Membership Registers 1889-1901.
BIRTH IN INDIA
Louisa and her brother Charles Colin Macrae were children of Dr Alexander Charles Macrae and his wife Charlotte Isa Reid (or Reed; unfortunately I’ve seen both spellings).
Alexander Charles and Charlotte were both of Scottish descent. Charlotte was born in Scotland, but neither of them spent much of their lives living there. Alexander Charles was born in Demerara, Guyana (formerly British Guiana) in 1816. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University, qualifying in 1838. In January 1839 he joined what was then the East India Company’s medical service. He spent all his working life in Bengal, beginning as an assistant surgeon with its Ramgurh Light Infantry regiment, based in Dorundah. He was with the regiment all through the 1840s, serving in the First Sikh or Sutlej War (1845-46) but by 1850 he had moved to a civilian posting in Howrah. He was promoted to Surgeon in January 1853 and became surgeon and marine surgeon to the Bengal Presidency. During the first Indian War of Independence/ Indian Mutiny he was seconded to the military, as staff surgeon with the 10th Foot and then with the 6th Light Dragoons. He was promoted to Surgeon-Major after the War, returning to his civilian work in Calcutta. In 1863 he was officiating surgeon to the governor-general and viceroy of India. The family were living in Calcutta, at 9 Middleton Street at that time. They were not the only Macraes in India: living with them was Colin Wilson Macrae of the merchants and agents Pearce, Macrae and Co of 1 Clive Ghaut Street.
Alexander Charles Macrae had married Charlotte, the daughter of a naval captain, at Fort William Bengal in 1842. Their five children were all born in India. Charles Colin Macrae, who married GD member Cecilia Laing, was the eldest; born at Dorunda in 1843. Louisa Ida Marina was the youngest; born at Fort William in July 1856. In between Charles Colin and Louisa Ida were one sister and two brothers. The two boys died as infants. Fanny Macrae (born 1845) survived long enough to marry and have a child, but died in 1870.
Alexander Charles Macrae retired from the Bengal medical service in January 1865 and the family returned to Britain; but not to Scotland, they lived most of the year in London, with some summers spent on the south coast. Charles Colin Macrae was sent to England before his father retired, to be a pupil at Eton College.
ALEXANDER CHARLES MACRAE:
Roll of the Indian Medical Service 1615-1930 compiled by Lt-Col D G Crawford. Limited edition of 200. London: W Thacker and Co; Calcutta: Thacker Spink and Co: p113.
Bengal Directory and Annual Register 1840 p245.
Bengal and Agra Directory and Annual Register 1845 p153, p269.
Bengal and Agra Directory and Annual Register 1850 p274.
Bengal Directory and Annual Register 1854 p275.
Times 27 January 1858 p6 originally in London Gazette Tue 26 January .
New Calcutta Directory 1859 p70, p222.
Thacker’s PO Directory of Bengal issue of 1863; residents’ list p37.
New Calcutta Directory 1863 Part 9-11 p253.
Thacker’s Bengal Directory 1866 p124 list of residents: no entry for him.
At //indiafamily.bl.uk: birth of Alexander Charles MacRae 21 December 1816.
Familysearch India Marriages 1792-1948. India-EASy GS film number 498980: marriage of A C MacRae MD, son of Colin Macrae to Charlotte Isa (sic) Reid (sic), daughter of the late Captain Reid RN; 1 November 1842 at Fort William Bengal.
Familysearch India Births and Baptisms 1786-1947:
- India-EASy GS film number 498983: birth of Charles Colin Macrae 16 August 1843. Baptised November 1843 at Dorunda. This region has Charlotte as Charlotte Isabel Reed.
- India-EASy GS film number 498983: birth of Fanny Catherine Ouseley Macrae 19 May 1845. Baptised August 1845 at Dorunda.
- India-EASy GS film number 498985: birth Henry George Vernon Martal (sic) Macrae 5 June 1847. Baptised December 1847 at Bishop’s College Howrah. This time Charlotte’s full name is given as Charlotte Isabella Reid.
I haven’t found any other records at all of Henry Macrae either in India or elsewhere; and as biographical information on Charles Colin Macrae calls him an only son, I assume Henry died as a child.
- India-EASy GS film number 498991: birth Edgar Elliott Maptal (sic) Macrae 10 January 1853. Baptised February 1853 at Howrah. This regn has Charlotte as Charlotte Isabella.
GS film number 498994: Edgar Elliott Macrae buried Bishop’s College Bengal 19 May 1854.
- India-EASy GS film number 498994: Louisa Ida Murixa (sic) Macrae born 28 July 1856 at Fort William, St Paul Bengal. Baptised September 1856 Calcutta. Parents Alexander Charles and Charlotte Isa.
The Macraes’ first address after their return to England was probably Hastings, where Fanny Macrae married Robert George Currie in 1866. Currie was on leave from the Bengal Civil Service and Fanny went back to India with him. By 1866 Charles Colin Macrae was at Oxford University. After graduating, he qualified as a barrister in 1868 and went back to India to practice law in Calcutta. So on census day 1871, only Louisa Ida (now aged 14) was living with her parents at their London address of 38 Gloucester Gardens, Bayswater. However, two young cousins were living with them - Charlotte Mackenzie aged 19 and her brother Thomas, aged 15. Alexander Charles Macrae’s pension and perhaps a contribution from the Mackenzie family allowed the Macraes to emply a cook, a housemaid, a nursemaid and a footman.
Charles Colin Macrae returned to England in 1877. The family had moved a few streets to 119 Westbourne Terrace by then, and Charles Colin lived with them there for a short time until he married future GD member Cecilia Laing in July 1877. Charlotte Macrae died a few weeks before the wedding took place. She was 57, and I can’t believe that the wedding would have been arranged for a time when she was seriously ill; so I assume she died very suddenly. The wedding went ahead; it was probably too late in the day to cancel the arrangements.
Louisa Ida continued to live with her father until his death at age 92. By 1881, Charlotte and Thomas Mackenzie had left the household but a woman who was probably their mother had joined it, contributing a private income to the household budget: Alexander Charles Macrae’s sister-in-law Alexandrina Mackenzie, a widow aged 65. I think she may have lived with the Macraes until her death. On census day 1881, the Macraes also had a visitor, a Miss Campbell (I’m not sure of her forename but it might be ‘Catherine’). Miss Campbell was 26, of an age to be a friend of Louisa Ida’s. The Macraes and Mrs Mackenzie were able to employ a butler, a cook, two housemaids and a kitchenmaid.
Electoral Rolls show Alexander Charles Macrae living in the borough of Paddington until 1895, so they were probably still at 119 Westbourne Terrace until then. However, I can’t be sure because none of the Macraes were in the UK on the day of the 1891 census, which took place a few weeks before Louisa Ida and her sister-in-law Cecilia joined the GD.
If I have got the right person, Louisa Ida’s aunt Alexandrina Mackenzie died in 1899, aged 81. By then, Alexander Charles Macrae had moved to 11 Mattock Lane Ealing, where he and Louisa Ida were on census day 1901. Something was written against Alexander Charles Macrae’s census entry in the column which was asking about disabilities; I couldn’t read what it was, but he was 85 by now so an entry in that column isn’t surprising. The Macraes no longer had a butler. However, they still were able to employ a cook, housemaid and parlourmaid. They could have afforded a nurse, I should think, but perhaps Louisa Ida - now 44 - could manage her father’s frailty without one.
Louisa Ida and her father made one more move before Alexander Charles Macrae died: they went to Eastbourne, to 7 Hartington Place. Alexander Charles Macrae died in Eastbourne in July 1908. Louisa Ida was 52 and had spent all her life as part of his household. He left very little - his pension died with him, of course, and his personal effects amounted to £196/13 - and I do wonder what Louisa Ida lived on for the rest of her life. There’s some indication that Charles Colin Macrae helped her. When she died, her executor - Alick Currie - had to apply for a second probate registration for her nephew, Charles Colin’s son Frank Laing Macrae; as if he had found financial papers belonging to Frank amongst Louisa Ida’s possessions. Frank had been killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915; perhaps Charles Colin had persuaded Louisa Ida to have the income from some of Frank’s investments. That’s just a speculation of mine. Alick Currie was not Fanny Macrae’s son but seems to have been regarded by both Louisa Ida and Charles Colin as if he might as well have been. He was the son of Fanny’s widower, Robert George Currie, and Robert’s second wife. After a couple of decades working for the Indian Civil Service, Alick had retired to Sussex around 1915.
Louisa Ida Macrae was not in the UK on the day of the 1911 census. Neither were Charles Colin or Cecilia, or their elder son Charles Alexander, so perhaps they had all gone somewhere together. Louisa Ida may have gone to live with Charles Colin and Cecilia after her father’s death; but what little evidence I have found of her, after 1908, suggests not. I couldn’t find her on the 1939 Register (taken in September 1939). I thought that was odd but perhaps her name hadn’t been transcribed very well. She died in January 1943 and at that time, she was living at White Cliff, Southdown Avenue Peacehaven, in Sussex.
Sources: censuses 1871-1911; freebmd; Familysearch electoral rolls; probate registry 1943.
Law Times volume 45 1868 issue of 2 May 1868 p11: Charles Colin Macrae called to the bar, a member of Lincoln’s Inn.
Times Fri 1 December 1922 p15f: obituary of Charles Colin Macrae.
BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.
Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn Companion by R A Gilbert. Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986. Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the names, initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888 and 1914. The list is based on the Golden Dawn’s administrative records and its Members’ Roll - the large piece of parchment on which all new members signed their name at their initiation. All this information had been inherited by Gilbert but it’s now in the Freemasons’ Library at the United Grand Lodge of England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden. Please note, though, that the records of the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh were destroyed in 1900/01. I have recently (July 2014) discovered that some records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have survived, though most have not; however those that have survived are not yet accessible to the public.
For the history of the GD during the 1890s I usually use Ellic Howe’s The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923. Published Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972. Foreword by Gerald Yorke. Howe is a historian of printing rather than of magic; he also makes no claims to be a magician himself, or even an occultist. He has no axe to grind.
Family history: freebmd; ancestry.co.uk (census and probate); findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families; thepeerage.com; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.
Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even for the female members of GD. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.
Useful source for business and legal information: London Gazette and its Scottish counterpart Edinburgh Gazette. Now easy to find (with the right search information) on the web.
For the GD members who were freemasons, the membership database of the United Grand Lodge of England is now available via Ancestry: it gives the date of the freemason’s first initiation; and the craft lodges he was a member of.
To take careers in craft freemasonry further, the website of the the Freemasons’ Library is a good resource: //freemasonry.london.museum. Its catalogue has very detailed entries and the website has all sorts of other resources.
You can get from the pages to a database of freemasons’ newspapers and magazines, digitised to 1900. You can also reach that directly at www.masonicperiodicals.org.
Wikipedia; Google; Google Books - my three best resources. I also used other web pages, but with some caution, as - from the historian’s point of view - they vary in quality a great deal.
To put contemporary prices and incomes into perspective, I have used www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare which Roger Wright found for me. To help you interpret the ‘today’ figure, measuringworth gives several options. I pick the ‘historic standard of living’ option which is usually the lowest, often by a considerable margin!
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: